Genre: RPG Developer: Nextech Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1 Released: 1994
It’s not that I don’t believe in the life-changing power of the Genesis and its software, but I hold that this game consistently goes for $35+ on eBay for one reason: countless Zelda comparisons. Even the most die-hard of Sega fans will admit that, with the Legend of Zelda series, the Genesis didn’t do what Nintendid. But that’s not to say that developers didn’t try. Atlas released Crusader of Centy in 1994, a game so obviously influenced by Nintendo’s premier franchise that it was, and has continued to be, considered a “Zelda clone.” While it was probably a hard fate to avoid, it’s still too bad that Atlas’ attempt at besting what’s arguably the most beloved series of video games ever ended up as a mere homage.
That doesn’t mean it’s not good though. It’s actually a very fun game. In the short ten or so hours it takes to plow through Crusader of Centy, there’s nary a second that passes that you’re not enjoying yourself. Sure, the storyline’s as heavy-handed as it gets (monsters have feelings too, apparently), and yeah, about halfway through the game you forget why exactly you left your hometown of Soleil. But the developers must have known the storyline was weak, because they never burden you with strings of tiring dialog. Instead they keep the pace of the game going, letting you enjoy the more fun aspects of adventure games (like, you know, the adventures).
You set out from Hyru… uh, Soleil, with the unspecific quest of, well, ending up a hero. Now, long after what’s vaguely described in the game’s intro as a great blast of light sent every monster into hiding, they’ve decided to inch their way back into the outside world that’s currently inhabited by only humans and animals. Lucky for you, a short time after setting out on your quest, a fortuneteller gives you the gift/curse of being able to communicate with animals and monsters, but at the expense of your ability to talk to humans. But you deal with it, and you work your way through a world of conflict, where monsters feel unjustly feared and are often attacked by humans. It’s bizarre that, as the hero of a game that means to cast light on how humans wrong other species, you beat the game by defeating countless animals and monsters. I’m not completely sure of the sense in that, but at the very least, you’ll consider vegetarianism for like, a few minutes.
So what makes the adventure a fun one? Well, the inspiration well didn’t run completely dry, because there’s a cool “weapon” system for CoC. It involves collecting animals whose various abilities help you through quasi-puzzling dungeons and to defeat bosses, and you can only use the talents of two at a time. There’s a penguin who attaches to your sword, increasing the power of the attack while simultaneously freezing the enemy, a flaming lion whose effect is the same but with fire, a cheetah who makes you run faster, a sea creature who makes your sword swing faster, a phoenix who doubles the effect of whichever other animal it’s paired with, etc. There’s some strategy involved, as combining the talents of your animals will be the only way to get past certain stages of the game. It’s well executed and makes for some interesting gaming. Overall, there’s not much fault to be found with the game play, which is nice; given the high mark set by good ole’ Link and co., a significant step down in how the game plays would really put a damper on the experience. Everything you think you’ve hit, you’ve hit, and it’s all pretty quick-moving and easy to grasp.
And of the handful of tunes that soundtrack your adventure, none are ever grating or beaten into your brain through repetition. Actually, they’re all pleasant enough to listen to outside of playing the game. And the graphics are some of the finest and most colorful you’ll find in the Genesis’ catalog. You’d be a fool to complain about what CoC‘s got to offer cosmetically.
But my two main complaints with Crusader of Centy are that it’s too short and too easy. It takes about eight to ten hours to save the world from whatever catastrophic end it would have reached had you not interfered, and that’s largely because of the relative simplicity of the game. Most “dungeons” are light on enemies and heavy on sub-par attempts at brainteasers, so it’s easy to fly through a lot of them. You might miss out on a bag of coins if you don’t explore every corner of every level, but that’s mostly irrelevant when you consider the fact that you only ever spend about fifty the entire game. When you reach the end of a level, you fight a boss, and those fights can be challenging sometimes, but you basically just have to figure out which combination of animals is going to take it down, and it’s simple from there. And its easiness never lets up. It never gets progressively more challenging, or at least not as much as some gamers might look for in an adventure. Oh yeah, and after defeating each boss, you get another piece of health added to your life meter (sound familiar?).
But hey, it’s easy to knock Crusader of Centy for of its lack of originality. At the end of the day, it’s just a game. It was made solely to entertain, and if you’re looking for a quick and fun fix, it’ll get the job done handily. Crusader of Centy stands on its own as a solidly fun – if brief – adventure, and one of the better ones the Genesis has to offer. So if you’ve got money to blow, go for it; it’s a worthwhile addition to any library. As long as you don’t name your guy Link and pretend you’re in Hyrule, you won’t end up disappointed.